Thursday, October 26, 2017

Zombie March: Fuel Tank Drivers Continue Struggle for Basic Rights

Hundreds of fuel tank drivers have walked 160 km, from Bandung to Jakarta, to highlight their struggle for basic rights. The drivers come from across Indonesia and are members of the transport union FBTPI. They dressed as zombies to highlight the real risk they face as drivers, and the inhumane way the company treats them.

Photo credit: Tribun News

This is the third action the drivers have taken, following a strike in November 2016, and a second in June 2017 which lasted over 2 weeks. They demand PT Pertamina Petra Niaga and Elnusa Petrofin:

1. Reinstate the 1,095 dismissed drivers
2. Stop the use of outsourcing and contract work
3. 8 hour shifts, with paid overtime and no performance system
4. Pay the healthcare insurance
5. Pay severance pay and pensions
6. Provide annual leave to all workers
7. Pay for accident costs

These demands point to the serious problems the drivers face. They work long hours, with frequent overtime. The fatigue puts them at risk of accidents. But the company refused to pay compensation when one driver died. And when other drivers have gone to hospital, they have found the company has not paid their healthcare insurance. When another driver was recovering from burns after his vehicle caught alight, the company stopped paying his wage.

The workers are also outsourced through another company which has seen their conditions decline. And then during Ramadan 2017, 350 drivers from the Jakarta depot were made redundant by text message and were not paid their bonus, overtime or owed wages. More than 700 more workers were than made redundant in July.

Show support for the fuel tank drivers by signing their petition here:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

May Day Jakarta 2017: Greater Repression Faced but Movement Responds

1 May, International Workers’ Day, is celebrated each year in Indonesia with major demonstrations of workers. This year was no exception, with hundreds of thousands of workers taking to the streets despite attempts by the state to dampen the mobilisations.

In the lead up to the day, the Manpower Minister issued a letter stating that demonstrations should not be held on May Day and instead workers should enjoy the public holiday doing other activities. One union leader responded, “How can we relax and see May Day as a leisurely holiday when our fate is one of suffering, we face threats of losing our jobs”.

In Jakarta the unions marched on the State Palace with a range of demands. These included an end to outsourcing and the apprenticeship program. In April, the government introduced an apprenticeship program, where more than 1,000 school kids will be put to work in the industrial areas of Bekasi. They will be paid only 60-80% of the minimum wage. In the lead up to May Day, workers in Bekasi united in opposition to the program, angry at the cheap source of labour being created for business.

Another May Day demand was for higher wages. The union movement continues to reject the government’s wage policy introduced in 2015 which ties wage increases to inflation and economic growth.

While every year the workers march to the State Palace, this year they were met by a fence and blockade of police. The government refused to allow them to enter the area to hold their demonstration. This is further evidence of the growing repression that the union movement in Indonesia is currently facing.

Fence and line of police block workers' demonstration

Workers who joined the demonstrations also faced repercussions when returning to work the next day. Thirteen union leaders from the fuel tank union were told they couldn’t enter the worksite because of their involvement in the May Day demonstration. However, the fuel tank drivers are a strong, militant union. In November 2016, they held an 18 day strike and had wins around pension compensation and health insurance. They are planning further action now in response to the management’s attack on their right to demonstrate.